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Jun 10, 2024 Clark Builders

Clark Builders – Celebrates 50 Years


Photo by Riverwood Photography.

Clark Builders’ purpose is to enrich the lives of the people who work with them, and in the communities they help build.

Steve Lenarduzzi, president, elaborates, “Construction is really our platform to solve problems and make the world a better place. For us, that starts with the people – our clients, trade partners, design partners, team members – and the communities with which we engage directly.” It is a purpose established by their founders and continues today through their work across Western and Northern Canada, delivering projects and solutions for institutional, commercial and industrial clients.

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, Andy Clark founded Clark Builders in 1974 as a young carpenter in his early 20s. He opened the company by taking on small projects in Yellowknife. That is where Clark Builders was founded and operated for years before it started expanding. Andy had a philosophy of building the company one great person and one great project at a time. With an early focus on northern and remote work, Clark Builders developed a core skillset within the organization of managing very challenging logistics and climate conditions through impeccable planning and a genuine do-it-yourself attitude.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Clark Builders’ skillset and attitude led to their expansion to Edmonton, Calgary and internationally, delivering significant projects in Siberia, China and Japan.

As challenging as it was to execute the remote projects at that time, it gave the company confidence and fueled a massive growth spurt. This journey culminated with a partnership with global construction leader Turner Construction in 2012. By then, Clark Builders had become one of the leading building construction companies operating in Western and Northern Canada and one of the nation’s largest, most successful builders.

For Kim Connell, senior vice president, development & strategy, it was that corporate culture that drew her to Clark Builders.

“I was attracted to the opportunity to grow teams and projects,” says Connell. “I was also excited that there was no glass ceiling. At Clark Builders, everyone is given the opportunity to have a career, not just a job.”

She notes that the company truly cares and provides the same treatment to all employees and their careers, regardless of role.
“What differentiates us is our people. Our focus is on improving communities and creating safe environments – physically and mentally. We achieve this on the job site and through our internal corporate culture. We operate collaboratively as a team to support each other.”

Lenarduzzi agrees, “Clark Builders is a “capital B” builder. We develop people through skilled trades. There are no limits to careers here. Our founder was a carpenter and much of our leadership team, including myself and our CEO Andrew Ross, were introduced to this industry in the field. We still hold the philosophy of ‘one great person and one great project at a time.’ The word “builder” is such an important part of our identity on all levels.”

It is precisely this commitment that has grown Clark Builders from a one-person operation to the 700+ it is today – and the growth continues.

“We see challenges as circumstances to overcome as opposed to barriers that stop us in our tracks,” Lenarduzzi explains. “We are great problem solvers and care about the people who work with us. I cannot overstate the importance of that. We do this work to enrich the lives of the people we work with and in the communities we help build; that is the fundamental component of our DNA. We are a local company and community builder, while being backed by the largest global leaders in the construction industry. Our partnership with Turner Construction provides access to global expertise and resources fostering an integration of best practices and capabilities that truly leverages our collective experience.”

It is not all smooth sailing, of course. Connell points out, “Everybody in the construction industry has to navigate significant challenges, be it in the supply chain, labour shortages or the pandemic. It’s not an easy industry. Additionally, construction as a career tends to be undervalued and more youth need to be encouraged to see this as a viable long-term path.”

Looking to the future, Lenarduzzi looks forward to continuing to execute the vision of CEO Andrew Ross.

“The ultimate goal is to establish a consistent condition in our projects, offices and shops where nobody gets hurt physically or psychologically. However, we are trying to do that in an industry that has been far too tolerant of risk and injury for far too long. The goal is to get to a day where even a minor injury like a paper cut or a scrape is unacceptable. People in our industry, particularly our trade people, do critical work that we all not only benefit from but count on for our very survival. They deserve to be safe and healthy. Another focus area is our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) plan, which aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions for all business and construction site offices by 2038. Our ESG framework has massive responsibilities but they give us a great purpose.”

Clark Builders focuses on community engagement and development, demonstrating a profound commitment to work that enhances the architectural landscape and positively impacts the areas it serves.

To highlight this, the construction of the Cambridge Manor in Calgary, a 240-unit seniors’ care facility exemplifies the aging-in-place philosophy embraced by their client, The Brenda Strafford Foundation. Residents can comfortably remain in their chosen homes as their care needs evolve. The 248,000-square-foot facility fosters a sense of community and expands the range of available amenities by being constructed with a walkway to the Maple Independent Living facility. This connection allows residents from both buildings to access nearby facilities easily and encourages social integration among the residents.

Another testament to Clark Builders’ commitment to community enrichment is exemplified in the revitalization of Fort Edmonton Park. This extensive project involved many historical restorations and additions, including constructing the award-winning Indigenous Peoples’ Experience – a new educational exhibit hall. This endeavour encompassed specialized fit-out construction, incorporating thematic elements, cutting-edge audio-visual systems and lighting, alongside the installation of outdoor traditional and food arbours for Indigenous ceremonies.

Collaborating closely with Indigenous communities across Treaty 6, 7 and 8 territories, the project team established an Indigenous Monitoring program, facilitating proactive environmental impact assessments while preserving invaluable verbal history and stories.

Moreover, the project breathed new life into the Midway area, introducing new attractions and enhancing the entrance for improved functionality and aesthetics.

Although Clark Builders has been recognized time and time again for its corporate culture and outstanding projects, the awards that speak to the goals of the company for its people are what stand out for both Connell and Lenarduzzi.
“I recently received a Top Influencer in Canadian Construction award,” says Connell. “Self-promotion isn’t something I do as most everyone’s success results from the teams that support them. While it is nice to be recognized, the messages from people in the company congratulating me meant the most. Especially those who are grateful to see a woman succeed because the reality is that women are still underrepresented in our world and industry. With this recognition, women can see a path and the potential for themselves as well.”

Lenarduzzi recalls an award that made a lasting impact on him and on the company.

Clark Builders received an award from Inclusion Alberta, an organization dedicated to supporting and placing individuals with developmental disabilities in employment. “I was new to my role and unfamiliar with the extent of what we had achieved. Learning we were selected to receive an award, I prepared an acceptance speech. Only when the parents of an individual we had employed shared their story, revealing how their child had secured their first job with Clark Builders, did I understand the true magnitude of our contribution. They spoke of dignity, training, and genuine inclusion – how working with us inspired their child to pursue further education and start a career. That moment compelled me to discard my prepared remarks and speak from the heart about the story I had just heard. Since then, our success hasn’t been measured by awards but by the knowledge that inclusion is part of our DNA. We extend our efforts to all underrepresented groups, and it fills me with pride to be part of an organization that not just aims for diversity but embodies it.”

When asked about the key players in Clark Builders’ development, both Connell and Lenarduzzi’s responses were clear.

“Everybody from the front-line employees to the executive team, each member of Clark Builders plays a crucial role in our collective success. The sense of camaraderie is palpable, with a culture where everyone has each other’s back. This supportive environment has been instrumental in fostering growth, innovation and a drive to excel. Our teams are not just groups of individuals working together, they are the backbone of our business and the reason for our achievements,” says Lenarduzzi.

Among the notable figures who have shaped the trajectory is CEO Andrew Ross.

“His leadership through a period of major transition for our company and the challenges that the pandemic caused our industry is something I will always look back at as an inspiration. He continually had us focus on the safety and well-being of our people, along with a continued commitment to servicing our clients. It was a ‘we’ll get through this as long as we stay true to who we are’ type of message. It was, and continues to be, a great example of true leadership.”

Lenarduzzi concludes, “The constant push to be better every day, to be progressive and not rest on our laurels is what differentiates Clark Builders. Our expansion into new regions and ventures into new market sectors are testaments to our unwillingness to settle. It’s this forward-thinking mindset and dedication to improvement that ensure we continue to be recognized as a leading company and a valued corporate citizen.

“We want to thank the communities we operate within, our clients, consultants, trade partners and employees who have enabled our growth and success throughout the years. We are excited to see where the next 50 years take us.”

Original article by Business In Edmonton, June 2024.

Published by Clark Builders June 10, 2024